As our title suggests, in this post we will take a look at ‘site authority’ – what it means to search engines, how to achieve it and what you can do if your authority content is plagiarised.
What exactly is meant by site authority?
Google describes a number of features that describe an authority site. These include:
- It provides trustworthy, factual information that is well-written.
- The content author has expertise on the written subject and / or knows about the topic in depth.
- The site content is original.
- Site content is geared towards its audience and not written solely or mostly for ranking purposes.
- The site is a recognised authority on its topic.
More information on what constitutes site quality can be found here.
Achieving site authority
From Google’s point of view, achieving site quality and authority involves focussing on providing the best possible user experience possible, rather than becoming fixated on their latest algorithmic signals. This is because the search function is not an exact science, and any attempts to manipulate content in order to improve rankings is likely to backfire.
So to create an authority site from Google’s point of view really involves focussing on quality and credibility, and providing information that is useful and interesting for your audience.
What if site content is stolen?
While Google has for some time now favoured authority sites, what occurs when someone pinches that content and claims it as their own is another story! And it appears that in some cases, Google’s Panda algorithm updates may have inadvertently penalised the innocent along with the guilty.
In cases where true authority sites have had their content plagiarised, site owners have sometimes found their search traffic seriously flagging due to the duplication of the content – a search engine no-no. It can be even worse if the content thief claims the content as their own!
At least that has been the case until quite recently. It seems the latest Panda updates may be getting things the right way up when it comes to authority content, as site owners do not appear to be suffering from the same falls in search traffic as previously. It’s also possible that Google came to the understanding that Authorship – like all other SEO tools – was used for quick SEO gains by unscrupulous operators, and that they really need to look deeper in order to find which sites have true authority and credibility.
In any case copyright is always an issue to keep in mind when it comes to any created work. While we don’t want to encourage paranoia, it’s good to be vigilant and to do regular searches or checks using copyright software to ensure your content is not being plagiarised. And if you are really serious and concerned about copyright, you should consider putting the copyright symbol on your site’s pages.
It’s also important if you do give permission for others to use your content, that it contains a backlink to your site to inform search engines of its origin.
What to do if your content is duplicated
If your content is plagiarised, you could always take it as a bit of a compliment! It could show that it is good enough for someone to think it’s worth duplicating in the first place. However that doesn’t really help you commercially – so you really need a plan of action:
- Start by contacting the site owner by email, and politely informing them of the duplicate content and the fact that you are the copyright owner. Ask them to remove it. Keep it friendly at this stage.
- If there is no response consider sending them an old-fashioned snail-mail letter. If there is no response or action from this it might be time to contact your lawyer about sending legal correspondence.
- If none of the above yields results, it’s time to bring in the Big Guns, by way of Google’s ‘copyright infringement form’, to inform Google that you want the duplicate content removed.
So as well as creating content with credibility and authority, make sure you take steps to protect it, and to act promptly if you find that plagiarism has occurred.